Volkswagen CEO Mathias Muller, speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, has just revealed that Skoda is building on an ‘Eco’ low cost car platform. The cars based on this platform (next-gen Polo, Vento, Ameo, compact SUV and premium Skoda hatchback) will not just be sold in India, but also in other emerging markets such as Latin America and the Middle East, to name just two.
What’s the ‘Eco’ low cost platform all about?
It’s a toned-down version of the Volkswagen MQB platform, which the group uses for almost all of its cars. Skoda India’s team of engineers working on the ‘Eco’ platform will work towards eliminating the ‘costly’ bits of the MQB platform, while retaining the key elements.
For example, using lower grade steel instead of the high-tensile hot stamped steel, costs can be cut. Also, eliminating certain features that are standard on the MQB cars can make the Eco cars both cheaper, and lighter. By retaining the key elements, the Eco platform will continue to allow VW group cars to share parts, which is the main idea behind the MQB platform.
Why’s Skoda India doing it and not Volkswagen?
VW is said to be busy on other global projects, and has its hands full with the Dieselgate scandal. Skoda India has adequate engineering resources to push into this project. It also has a cheaper vendor base here, as it’s positioned a notch below Volkswagen in the market. Being a smaller company, it’s said to be faster at embracing new ideas.
When can we expect the first cars?
2020 is the timeline for the first cars based on the Eco low cost platform to roll out. Currently, the plan is to use petrol and diesel engines rather than electric power. The cars that will arrive on this platform include the next-generation Polo, Vento, Ameo, a premium hatchback for Skoda, and also a compact SUV. Rs. 1,500-2,000 crores are likely to be invested in this project.